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Why We Hire Creative People, Not "Creatives"


IU C&I Studios Page Why we hire creative people, not "creatives" Closeup of black ink pen next to pen cap on a notebook with notes in it

This is a pretty big step for me. I normally do not put a lot of things online, nonetheless my feelings. I usually only write about traditional business dealings, and though this has to do with my business, it’s deeply personal. And I’m going to be very real here.

There is so much that happens in business that those in leadership don’t really get to talk about. But here, on this new blogging segment, I’m going to talk about them. A buddy of mine told me that I should speak up more about what actually happens in this company and our industry, so I thought long and hard about how to do that.

Anyway, here I am.

I own and run a production company and advertising agency called C&I Studios Inc. The company is 14 years old and has really grown from starting in the 2nd bedroom of my apartment to a 40 person staff with offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL, New York City, NY, and Los Angeles, CA.

The main services we specialize in are Video Production, Photography, Web Development, TV & Film Production, Graphic Design, Branding, and Digital Marketing and Distribution. We do it all.

We also have a clothing line called The Uncreative Shop, a non-profit called C&I Reach, a magazine called Frame Magazine, a coffee shop and bar called Next Door (which is attached to our studio in Fort Lauderdale), a radio show called Uncreative Radio, and a bunch of other initiatives that I could go on and on about.

It’s a very busy studio and there is never a dull moment. Everything I just mentioned — all of the brands, all of the artwork, and creativity — sounds really awesome and if you went on our website you would see all of these amazing things and probably think the same thing. But what looks great always takes a ton of hard work. And that is where the business side comes in.

Running C&I Studios is hard because we rely on people. People are always the variable. You have to manage personalities, feelings, emotions, and, most commonly among all “creative” men (not women) that I have dealt with over the years, egos.

The disconnect between what C&I is and how people see us is largely the reason why we attract a certain type of person. If you looked at our company website, our various brands, our Youtube and our Instagram then you’d think our work life is super fun. And it is!… BUT it’s also a lot of work. Comparing our online brand personality with the hard work it took to create this culture, and seeing the types of “creative” people that want to work for us has revealed several things.

And they’re not really all that positive…

First, the studios headquarters is in South Florida — downtown Fort Lauderdale to be exact — and the talent pool there is just god awful. I’m from D.C. and up north people know how to actually grind and work hard. People in South Florida don’t understand how to really work. Now there are some diamonds in the rough. We have some people from Florida who are spectacular, but we have gone through soooo many duds because their work ethic just is rarely there.

Being at the top of the company poses some unique challenges. You’re constantly damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But something that is unique to my business is the fact that I am an artist too. I write, shoot, produce, plan, and create all sorts of things for all parts of the company. I have no ivory tower, and I grind harder than anyone I work with. Not because it’s a competition, but because that is how I work.

If I don’t already have a camera on my shoulders, I’ll climb a ladder to fix the ac, clean the toilets on the weekends, and do whatever it takes to keep the business running at full efficiency. We don’t have millions in the bank to throw at the little things, so it falls on us to be attentive and effective. I constantly have to work at being really creative and innovative and also be very logical and strategic. As I like to say, you have to know when to be Yosemite Sam, and when to be a tactical sniper. You need to know when to kick the door down and go for it, and also know when you need to stop, plan and think. So, in these posts, get ready for real examples from a real business person that is still working hard. I’m not rich. I’m still fighting to get the company where I want it to be.

Our goal is simple. Change people’s perspectives with the media that we create. Meaning we are going to create art that moves people, changes the way they think, and inspires them to act. We are going to do all of this with excellence, using only the best gear and the best people.

We are not a cheap $500 dollar studio or anything like that. We are expensive, like all good things. You won’t see our staff running around with little Sony A7s and tight jeans. We are not the type of people who care more about what they look like than what they are producing. Our art is how we express ourselves; our art is how we carry ourselves…not the style of clothes we wear or the personality we want people to see.

We got rid of the word “creatives” at our studio, because “creatives” are petty, and have fragile egos. They can’t produce unless they are inspired. Creatives need to show everyone they’re working at 2 AM; they need to post constant photos of themselves because they think it makes them sound and look more creative.

But from my experience, creatives don’t deliver on time, nor do they do what they say they are going to do. Every single “creative” that we have hired, when they get here, with real people that are actually educated in their craft… Well, let’s just say its funny to talk technically with a creative, because they don’t know basic things at all — lighting, frame rates, how to write an email, do administrative tasks, find out where the closest Fedex is, its mind-numbing to watch them run this obstacle course. They know enough to post on Instagram, but ask them what kelvin this light is at and all you’ll hear is, “uhhh uhhh.”

At C&I, we are professionals. We can create anytime, anywhere, for anyone in any industry. And we call ourselves An Idea Agency, because that is what we do first. We come up with great ideas. Our ideas for you brand or company will be better than anyone else’s. That’s not me bragging, thats just facts. Try me if you think I’m lying. We fall asleep thinking about how to be better, dreaming about your company, our company and how to develop our craft more.

We are craftsmen (and women).We are C&I Studios.

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